Pop quiz: What college major would provide an aspiring journalist the best opportunity? Communications? Broadcast journalism? News production?
None of the above. Instead, if you want to be taken seriously in today’s news industry, there’s only one course to master.
Apparently, we now take late-night comedians so seriously, construing their every word as gospel truth, that we’ve elevated them to the same level as news anchors. As proof, look at the firestorm that has enveloped talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel after he made a funny about the First Lady’s accent.
This is no joke. There’s been an all-out war between Kimmel and Fox’s Sean Hannity over a simple one-liner. To be even having a discussion, let alone a national debate, over a harmless joke is so mindboggling that, if someone scripted it, he’d be laughed out of the room.
Comedian makes joke. People laugh and move on – except for one. Cable TV political commentator treats joke as crime against the state. Vitriolic Twitter war ensues. Unwarranted apology follows. America’s sense of humor takes another hit.
This is certifiably insane.
It all began when Kimmel, whose show is predicated on comedy, made a quick joke about Melania Trump’s accent. After a clip of her reading a book, where she pronounces “this and that” as “dees and dat,” Kimmel turned to his Mexican-American sidekick, Guillermo Rodriguez, and quipped: “Guillermo, you know what this means? You could be first lady of the United States.”
e waiting for the rest of what Hannity thought was beyond-the-pale offensive, sorry to disappoint, but that’s it. That’s the whole joke.
So rather than laughing at (or simply ignoring) the joke, Hannity unleashed hell on Kimmel. Even before Sean’s outburst, Fox aired an entire “Fox And Friends” segment with host Ainsley Earhardt, replete with a guest contributor, to bash Kimmel.
“Where is the outrage at Jimmy Kimmel for making fun of Melania Trump’s accent?” Earhardt asked. A guest then commented that her mother, who also has an accent, felt Kimmel’s joke was a “dagger through the heart.”
These people can’t be serious.
A conservative cable network thought it a good use of airtime to whip up anger because a comedian had the “gall” to actually tell a joke? This from a network that prides itself – in name only – as being “fair and balanced.”
Hannity then jumped into the fray like it was World War III, referring to the joke as “brutal,” and calling Kimmel a “despicable disgrace,” “a—clown,” “a——,” “pervert,” “Harvey Weinstein Jr.,” and “racist,” while airing clips from Kimmel’s “The Man Show” – a program that ran in 1999. That bears repeating. To “get back” at Kimmel, Hannity resurrected a nearly two-decade-old comedy show for “gotcha” material, demonstrating that he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.
So let’s recap. The so-called “conservative” Hannity 1) has shown himself to be the biggest “snowflake” of all, offended by everything that doesn’t pass his personal litmus test (ironic, since he has been bashing snowflakes since the election); 2) believes in censorship (ironic, since he’s in the media); 3) invokes political correctness when convenient (more irony, since yes, that’s the same dreaded political correctness against which he has so often railed); 4) is a shill for the Trumps, remaining silent on many of the same issues for which he excoriated President Obama; 5) used wildly inappropriate language in the public domain (also ironic, since he pontificates as a self-righteous moral crusader); and 6) suddenly pretends to care about the plight of immigrants.
The hysteria that Fox whipped up helped fuel an online petition that garnered at least 50,000 signatures calling for the boycotting of Kimmel’s show. Yet another irony, since protesting is the favorite weapon of the constantly-offended left.
Kimmel made a mistake by engaging Hannity’s lunacy via Twitter. Hannity, who continues to promulgate crazy conspiracy theories, lost whatever relevance he had long ago, save for the rabid right. So Kimmel’s jousting gave Hannity a level of credibility he did not deserve.
The back-and-forth escalated and became personal on both sides, with Kimmel joking about Hannity being physically close to the president. That, in turn, created controversy within the gay community (again – it was joke), and it all went downhill from there. Finally, Kimmel, likely under pressure from parent company Disney, issued a semi-apology and ended the feud.
That only sets the stage for future insanity, as the bar has again been lowered for the next person who is offended by a comedian’s “non-sanitized” joke. Disney and Kimmel should have simply said, “It’s a comedy show. It was a joke. Get over yourself.” But corporate intelligence is an oxymoron.
Worst of all, Hannity gets to gloat. But he didn’t leave it at that. Instead, he issued a bizarre warning to Kimmel that if the battle heats up again, his “producers spent all weekend compiling a lot of your highlights – or lowlights – in your career; they don’t make you look too good. So instead of airing them, we’ll put them in storage.”
Hannity and Kimmel are both entertainers, nothing more. The difference is that Kimmel makes jokes for a living, while Hannity masquerades as a serious conservative leader. Instead, he’s a charlatan who’s gone off the deep end. Say what you want about former host Bill O’Reilly’s personal issues, but he was a straight shooter and serious journalist. The fact that Hannity, and his network, literally spent days fighting about a joke – and a very minor one at that – tells you everything you need to know about how far the media has fallen.
Where are we going when America’s hyper-sensitivity no longer allows us to laugh at ourselves? And worse, when we willfully allow the Thought Police to exercise control over every aspect of our lives?
This is precisely why more and more comedians – such as Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Larry the Cable Guy – refuse to play college campuses, and why many commencement speakers have withdrawn from university graduation ceremonies. Spoiled brats, insulated from reality, protest everything and everyone so frequently that it’s gotten to the point where normal people are walking away, refusing to subject themselves to such treatment.
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” is not “World News Tonight.” It is, and always has been, a comedy show, with the goal of making people laugh. What part of that don’t people understand? Given that, nothing said should be taken with a straight face.
You can tell a lot about a society by its sense of humor. The strong ones have the ability to laugh, poke fun, and engage in self-deprecating humor, made possible by an innate confidence and the ability not to take itself too seriously.
Conversely, societies that live in fear, get constantly “offended” and attempt to sanitize everything with the goal of complete homogenization put themselves on the path to self-destruction. Political correctness rules the day, common sense goes out the window, and a bitter resentment grows as people feel they can only express themselves behind closed doors, fearful of being labeled insensitive and bigoted.
This is no laughing matter. It’s time to grow a spine and push back against this rising tide of insanity. No more backing down for innocent jokes, and no more apologies to people whose entire existence is predicated upon being “offended.”
Jimmy Kimmel, keep the laughs coming and show the Hannitys of the world that the real joke’s on them!
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. His print column appears every Wednesday. He can be reached at [email protected]